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Key West Sea Turtle Release featuring Diana Nyad

Posted on: September 30th , 2023 | History
Key West Sea Turtle Release featuring Diana Nyad

Key West Legend: Diana Nyad, the 10th Anniversary of Her Historic Swim, and How She’s Helping Sea Turtles Return to the Ocean


On Labor Day, September 2, 2013, the world tuned in to the shores of Key West’s Smathers Beach to watch long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad emerge from the water. That afternoon, the 64-year-old became the first person to swim across the Florida Straits, from Havana, Cuba to Key West, without a shark cage. The historic 111-mile swim was made in just 53 hours.

Ten years after her record-breaking swim, we join Diana Nyad once again on the shores of Key West for a celebrity send-off. Only this time, she’ll be assisting The Turtle Hospital with a sea turtle release.

“Don’t be fooled by a perfect sea at any given moment. Accept and rise to whatever circumstance presents itself.” - Diana Nyad

The non-profit organization on Marathon has been rescuing, rehabilitating, and returning sea turtles to the wild since 1984. They have successfully treated over 3,000 sea turtles! After a stay at The Turtle Hospital, sick or injured turtles are released as close as possible to where they are found.

Of the seven living species of sea turtles, five of those are found swimming in Florida waters, including Green, Loggerhead, Leatherback, Hawksbill, and Kemp’s Ridley. All of these turtles are threatened, endangered, or critically endangered, and are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act and Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Act.


The turtles taken in by The Turtle Hospital are often being rehabilitated after ingesting synthetic material, getting entangled in fishing lines, being hit by a boat, or after a bout with fibropapillomatosis. It’s an important reminder for us to do our part to make sure sea turtles have a clean, healthy ocean to call home.

What You Can Do To Save Florida Sea Turtles:

-Participate in coastal clean-ups, or simply pick up trash you see on your next beach visit. This will keep the sea turtle’s habitat free of harmful debris.

-Contribute to conservation organizations and rehabilitation centers like The Turtle Hospital.

-Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Me mindful of the trash you make. Items like plastic water bottles, plastic shopping bags, and balloons often end up in the ocean.

-If you see a sea turtle in distress, contact The Turtle Hospital 24-hr. hotline at 305-481-7669 (if you’re in the Keys), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation at 888-404-3922 (if you’re in Florida), or the Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16.

-Attend a sea turtle release. An organized sea turtle release will demonstrate how to observe sea turtles from a safe distance - and a release with Diana Nyad is even better!

“I'm just a person who cherishes a bold journey. A person who refuses to let this one wild and precious life slip quietly by.”- Diana Nyad

Diana has much more to her repertoire than being a record-breaking long distance swimmer (her other accomplishments include circling Manhattan Island in 1975 and her 1979 swim from Bimini to Florida). She’s also an author, having published four books and served as a contributor for The New York Times, NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Newsweek, American Public Media, CBS’s “Sunday Morning,” and more.

Today you can find a bronze plaque recognizing Diana Nyad’s iconic swim permanently affixed to the promenade beside Smathers Beach in New Town, just three miles from 24 North Hotel.

The sea turtle release with Diana Nyad is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 22, at 9 a.m. at Smathers Beach. Join Diana in releasing Rocky, a 120 pound female green sea turtle. Stay tuned to The Turtle Hospital for more information.

Read all about The Turtle Hospital on our Key West Travel Blog and follow their website for a list of public turtle releases.

Stay up to date with our Key West Events Calendar for the best in entertainment, including our brand new Pet Yoga and Paint & Sip series, held monthly. Share a picture of the turtle release with us on Instagram at #TheKeysCollection. And if you don’t already, keep up with us by following the 24 North Hotel Facebook and Instagram.

As part of our resort fee, enjoy a complimentary shuttle from 24 North Hotel at Rooster Row to the Historic Seaport. Our shuttle service to Old Town, lively poolside bar, and comfortable and stylish rooms go a long way. See our special offers - and if you’re a Florida or Georgia resident, enjoy big savings.


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